At Malloy’s, a high-end clothing store in Bedford Falls, I have had a steady salesman named Bob Krume who has helped me for several years, and he writes me email from time to time about new suits they’ve received (this one from March, for example).
The other day, I received a paper letter from him saying that there was a big sale in late-May: if I bought a suit, I’d get around $1000 in merchandise in shirts, ties, trousers, and so on. Here is my email reply to him:
Bob, I hate to do this to you, but I'm going to need to change salespersons, not because you haven't been terrific, but because I'm in the midst of a sex change and will have to be shopping on the other side of the store. First, who is the Bob Krume of the women's side? And second, would my May Mayhem merchandise certificate you mailed me the other day be applicable on the other side of the store?
George Bailey, now known as Joyce George
I received a very nice email from Bob a couple of days later:
Good to hear from you. In my opinion Kelly Fires would be the salesperson to help you on the womens side as she is both knowledgeable and a soft sell like I am. As to the May Mayhem it is a promotion about Menswear Clothing and so would not transfer to the women's side of the store.
So I write to Kelly
Kelly, I've been a long-time customer of Bob Krume on the other side of the store, but I'm in the middle of changing my sex, and I find I need suits and clothing of a different sort these days. I asked him who he would recommend, and he wrote back immediately that you would be the best person to work with.
I hope to come in and visit in June some time - I'm a professor and I've been wearing Italian suits and blazers the past 10 years, and would certainly like to continue.
And she writes back:
It is wonderful to hear from you. I am honored that Bob would recommend me. I am so excited to work with you. We have an amazing women's department that is full of beautiful clothes. I have few ideas with some intriguing lines such as Piazza Seipione, Etro, Lafayette 148 and many others. Please email me or call when you will be coming in and I will have some things pulled, or we can walk through the store together. Have a fantastic day!
Earlier in the season, I had seen one dress from Malloy’s catalog they had mailed me, a designer dress from LaFayette 148 that has struck my fancy, even though there’s nowhere to wear it. So when Kelly wrote me about the brand Lafayette 148, I wrote the following:
Thanks for your note, Kelly- I'm looking forward to dropping in. I saw some very nice things in your catalog, and even cut one out--from Lafayette 148--to hang on my wall, and I'm mentally ready to dive in.
And she replies:
Great to hear back from you. If you are referring to the green dress with the floppy hat, I have one of these dresses in stock currently. What size would you be? I am excited to meet you. Let me know how I can be of further assistance
and I get excited:
YES! That's the one! It's on my wall. I can't explain it, but it just speaks to me. So much so that I've been trying to figure out how to manufacture an event for me to wear it to!
I'm 5'9", 170 lbs, usually a size 12, but having been a man (and lots of transgender women are like this), I sometimes work better with 10 on the bottom and 14 on top, depending on how things are cut.
and she ends the dialog in classic salesgirl style:
Well you have amazing taste. The dress that I have in stock is unfortunately not your size but I have some other things that are. We can manufacture many events for many things trust me I have so many things in my closet that I say, "What will I ever wear this to." It seems that when the event arises I always have the right attire, while others are left in the wings searching frantically for the right thing to wear and then settling, instead of saying when they find a fabulous thing that looks great on them buying it and knowing that somewhere at some time they will wear the garment. Thanks for getting back to me. When you find looks of inspiration please tear them out and keep them they are always things that we can reference to find the perfect outfits. Thank you for choosing Malloy's. Let me know if you have any other ideas.
Dear Readers, before you write comments about how awful and trite and gaggy this whole thing is, let me tell you that I know I don’t really have amazing taste, and I know that Kelly’s enthusiasm comes from her anticipated sales commissions, and I know I’m being overly dramatic about this correspondence. But I also know that there is something beneficial that comes from recognizing a look that speaks to me, and I know that I feel like I’m making progress from corresponding with people honestly, and I know that I am never going to move any closer to an authentic sense of self without some form of experimentation–whether it’s cutting out pictures from catalogs or making up stories about myself or trying out many unsuccessful (and some successful) outfits.
These seem like harmless and reasonable forays into creating a new image that are probably necessary evils. But perhaps they could also be a little bit fun?